Initiatives earn community mental health support worker leadership award

31 Oct 2017 | Improving Leadership & Capability

Initiatives to reduce isolation among rural mental health service users has earned Shane Brown, a support worker for Rangitikei Health Centre’s Community Mental Health Services, an Open for leadership award.

WDHB 201760 Shane BrownThe awards are part of the Health Quality & Safety Commission’s work to build capability and leadership in the health sector. They recognise and celebrate health professionals who demonstrate excellent practice, quality improvement and leadership skills.

Marton-based Shane started the recovery initiative ‘Wellness Friday’ to address the loneliness and isolation experienced by many service users. A minibus picks up a group every Friday morning and takes them to Whanganui for a day of activities, including an exercise class, followed by lessons in cooking and healthy eating. After lunch the group volunteers at a bird rescue centre before returning home.

Shane says it’s been very satisfying building trust and rapport with participants to give them the courage to leave their homes and integrate into the community. The programme reflects te whare tapa whā, the four dimensions of Māori wellbeing: physical, spiritual, family and mental health.

‘Some didn’t used to leave their houses for months at a time. We began with three participants and now have up to a dozen each week and they’ve developed their own whānau.’

Shane has since added two more initiatives to the programme. ‘Monday Motivator’ is a lifestyle management programme featuring guest speakers on a range of life management subjects, such as budgeting. ‘Wakeup Wednesday’ is when the group goes walking or swimming.

Whanganui District Health Board manager mental health and addictions service, Katheryn Butters, says Shane’s commitment, enthusiasm and ability to engage people have been key to the success of the programme.

‘His belief in the potential of others and what they can achieve, especially because he has walked this path himself, is really inspirational. He’s the most positive, motivated man.

‘He has the ability to lead at multiple levels, from inspiring individuals to be all they can be to service design and delivery.’

Shane, a former freezing worker, paramedic and volunteer firefighter is halfway through a two-year diploma in applied addictions counselling, says he was ‘overwhelmed’ to win the award.

‘I get to hang out with some really cool people doing cool stuff, so I was very humbled by it. I’m a small cog in a big wheel and my managers have encouraged and supported me all the way.’

More information on the Open for leadership awards, including other recipients, is available here.

Last updated 31/10/2017